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Previewing the 2020 Holiday Season

  • Rob Patterson

With September already upon us, the holidays are quickly approaching. As with everything else in 2020, they’re going to look different than normal. While some consumers will continue celebrating as usual, the reality is that many are in a tough economic situation given the circumstances of the pandemic. In fact, according to a study from Brandwatch, 44% of consumers say they plan to spend less on gifts and celebrations compared to 2019.

Below, we take a look at the trends from 2019 and evaluate the landscape for 2020 to understand how brands can be of service to consumers this holiday season.

 

Applying Learnings from Last Year

In 2019, holiday purchases were already centering around the digital world. According to Salesforce, Cyber Week’s share of holiday revenue grew 18% YoY and accounted for 38.5% of the season’s total purchases. It makes sense; Cyber Week also had the highest share of free shipping orders (78.8%) and the highest average discounts (28.3%) of any time in the holiday season.

 

Anatomy of the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season
Week Share of Season Sales (All Verticals)
Pre Cyber Week (11/19-11/25) 12.3%
Cyber Week (11/26-12/2) 38.5% 
Post Cyber Week (12/3-12/9)  16.2%
Mid-Season (12/10-12/16)  17.0%
Final Rush (12/17-12/26)  16.0%

 

Continuing with that theme of digital growth, last year also saw mobile earn a 55.2% share of total orders in Cyber Week – surpassing 50% for the first time. With 2020 being marked by quarantine and economic uncertainty, it’s reasonable to expect that both mobile orders and the pursuit of promotions will continue to play a heavy role in the upcoming season.

 

Contextualizing the 2020 Holiday Season

Americans haven’t just been working from home in 2020; they’ve also been cooking, exercising, gardening, and taking up a variety of different hobbies to make the most out of a difficult situation. These changes in everyday habits have been a boon for the at-home economy, and it’s likely that the trend will continue leading up to the holidays.

Which categories could benefit the most from that? In a recent webinar, Klarna predicted that the holiday’s biggest growth categories will be athleisure, personal care, and sleepwear, each of which speak to the kind of self-care culture that has grown in 2020. Self-gifting could also see a rise this holiday season. Drawing a parallel to the 2008 Recession, Facebook research suggested that consumers will look for simple ways to remain positive and reward themselves by indulging themselves with affordable treats.

 

Holiday shopping is going to look different in 2020

 

How Brands Can Help

Though the remainder of the year offers great uncertainty, be certain to keep three things in mind while planning holiday marketing campaigns.

Demonstrate Empathy: Not only will spending be tight for many consumers, but others may be unable to travel to see their loved ones. For this reason, marketing efforts need to be sensitive to the reality of the season. Likewise, consumers want their favorite brands to give back – especially in the holiday season – so it will be important to highlight those efforts in a transparent manner.

Encourage New Traditions: In a year where disruption has been imposed on consumer routines, there is increased receptivity to doing things differently. This is an opportunity for brands to creatively design new takes on time-tested traditions. Whether it’s a curated winter wonderland or a holiday-themed drive-in theater, brands that go above and beyond to fill the void of holiday cheer will be the ones that win out.

Make Online Like IRL: While holiday spending has shifted towards digital in recent years, some gifts are more conducive to buying in person. To bridge that gap in a year where spending is going to tilt towards online even more, brands like Beautycounter and Glossier are offering one-on-one digital consultations with consumers to provide the kind of personalized experience they would get in the store. Virtual experiences have been en vogue in the absence of in-person, so this trend is sure to continue as the holidays approach.

If your brand is looking to connect with consumers ahead of this holiday season, contact us today to learn how our suite of experiential-led services can help you build awareness, encourage trial, and earn lifelong loyalists.

 

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Sources: “Retail Holiday Insights.” Salesforce (2020), “Christmas and Holidays 2020: Consumer Priorities and Brand Opportunities.” WGSN (2020), “Holiday Oasis Webinar.” Klarna (2020), “The 2020 Facebook Holiday Package.” Facebook (2020).